LINGUIST List 2.173

Saturday, 27 Apr 1991

Qs: Ergative verbs, Pidgin Signed Engl, Women in ling

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  1. bert peeters, Ergative verbs
  2. John Goldsmith, Re: Banned Languages
  3. , Women in The Linguistics Profession

Message 1: Ergative verbs

Date: Sat, 27 Apr 91 10:33:20 +1000
From: bert peeters <>
Subject: Ergative verbs
Those of you out there who happen to have read my review (in French) of Jan
van Voort's Event structure, published in the last issue of the Canadian Journal
of Linguistics for 1990, will know that I need convincing.
So, could anyone tell me what I should read in order to get convinced (I mean
convinced!) that so-called ergative verbs get their surface subject from an
underlying direct (or indirect?) object to which a nominative rather than an
oblique case is assigned?
Please bear with me. I'm not a GB-ist, not even a transformationalist or any-
thing of the sort. But unlike some colleagues who ignore what they don't
understand, I try to be interested.
Bert Peeters.
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Message 2: Re: Banned Languages

Date: Fri, 26 Apr 91 22:24:01 CDT
From: John Goldsmith <>
Subject: Re: Banned Languages
Larry Gorbet write:
>[Pidgin Signed English is certainly *acting* like a language and *looking*
>like a language. Its "phonology" and lexicon are clearly not those of a
>pidgin. I suspect the same goes for syntax and morphology.

This raises interesting questions worth discussing. Do we credit
Pidgin Signed English -- PSE -- with legitimate structure if that structure
is just English's structure? And when we say that PSE is "acting like" a
language, is it just a play on words to reply to that by saying,
"yes, it _is_ "acting" like a language -- it's acting a lot like ASL,
which is a language, and it's acting a lot like English, which is
a language." I too am inclined to say that PSE is NOT a natural
language, but it's not easy to make the case the one way or the other.
Gorbet's case would be easier to defend if there were some identifiable
aspect of PSE that were not found in ASL or English but which was
arguably an aspect of a natural language. I'm not aware of any. On
the other hand, there may be other ways to argue for Gorbet's case.

I'm also interested to know what the basis is for the suggestion that
PSE plays a dominant role in the deaf community. The fact that interpreters
use, or overuse, PSE -- and likewise teachers -- seems to me to be
an awfully weak plank to build an argument on. Do we have evidence,
or statistics, regarding the usage of PSE and ASL among the profoundly
deaf and hard of hearing? I have seen presentations by Clayton Valli and
Ceil Lucas at Gallaudet in which they have demonstrated the strong
sociolinguistic forces that hide ASL from sight when non-Deaf are
around. The point being, of course, that the relevant findings are going
to be difficult to get (esp for a hearing person) and will be biased
away from ASL use.
John Goldsmith
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Message 3: Women in The Linguistics Profession

Date: Sat, 27 Apr 1991 09:50 EDT
From: <PEARSON2umiami.IR.Miami.EDU>
Subject: Women in The Linguistics Profession
Alice Davison writes in the Foreward to The Cornell Lectures: Women
in the Linguistics Profession that Francine Frank organized a panel
at the 1982 LSA in San Diego at which six speakers presented 
biographical sketches of women in the field. Does anyone know if
these are published in a proceedings or who the speakers were or
if any more historical/biographical work is being done on linguists
in general and women in particular?
I tried the listserver for e-mail addresses for both Alice and Francine
and got no listing. Thanks. Rebecca Burns Hoffman

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